Pharma Bro Martin Shkreli Requests Furlough To Save World From Covid

(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty)

Martin Shkreli may be an absolute POS, but he’s not an idiot.

He’s watched Rod Blagojevich sweet talk himself into a presidential pardon via Fox News. He’s seen the Trump administration grasping wildly for something, anything that might let them walk out of this nightmare as the “heroes” who saved America, rather than the incompetent lunatics who botched the pandemic response and got hundreds of thousands of people killed. And he knows that Americans are easy prey for a snake oil salesman promising a miracle cure after decades of being told that every ailment could be solved using THIS ONE WEIRD TRICK THEY DON’T WANT YOU TO KNOW.

And so he’s “authored” a new paper from his cell at Allenwood Federal Correctional Complex with his business partner Kevin Mulleady and several other “citizen scientists.” Published in the, um, vaunted annals of, Shkreli and his co-authors purport to have used computers — and their own prodigious brains — to zero in on the likeliest treatment for coronavirus.

Using a custom HPC cluster provisioned with Autodock Vina, we screened 130,778 compounds in parallel batches for ability to bind to 2019-nCoV RdRp (nsp12). Our pre-selected screening library was sourced from the ZINC15 public access database[7], with the majority of candidates having drug-like properties according to Lipinski’s Rule of Five.

Being simple country lawyers, we have absolutely no idea what any of those words mean. But STAT News, which broke the story, writes that “Shkreli’s work is ‘not crazy, but neither is it particularly groundbreaking, either, at least to my eyes,’ said Derek Lowe, a medicinal chemist employed by a pharmaceutical company and a well-known drug industry blogger.”

Nevertheless, Shkreli is marketing himself as the “I Alone Can Fix It” Man for our troubled time.

The industry response to COVID-19 is inadequate. All biopharmaceutical companies should be responding with all resources to combat this health emergency. Donations from these very valuable companies do not go far enough. The biopharmaceutical industry has a large braintrust of talent that is not working on this problem as companies have deprioritized or even abandoned infectious disease research. Medicinal chemists, structural biologists, enzymologists and assay development and research biology departments at EVERY pharmaceutical company should be put to work until COVID-19 is no more. I am asking for a brief furlough (3 months) to assist in research work on COVID-19.

UH HUH. Shkreli, who has no medical or science training, started a company whose entire business model was a “your money or your life” stick up scheme based on jacking up the price of off-patent medicines that patients needed to survive. He famously hiked the price of Daraprim, an anti-malarial drug (hey, wait a minute …) by 5,000 percent. But please, tell us more about those greedy pharma guys trying to profiteer off the coronavirus pandemic.

I am asking for a brief furlough (3 months) to assist in research work on COVID-19. Being released to the post-COVID world is no solace to even the incarcerated. As a successful two-time biopharma entrepreneur, having purchased multiple companies, invented multiple new drug candidates, filed numerous INDs and clinical trial applications, I am one of the few executives experienced in ALL aspects of drug development from molecule creation and hypothesis generation, to preclinical assessments and clinical trial design/target engagement demonstration, and manufacturing/synthesis and global logistics and deployment of medicines.

Smart! Don’t try this sh*t with a real judge, who’ll just laugh you out of court. Put it out in a “scientific paper” with a bunch of charts and graphs pitching yourself as a disrupter uniquely placed to crack this disease wide open. All it takes is getting it to the right people, maybe Sean Hannity or Rudy Giuliani, and then Bill Barr will be springing the Pharma Bro in no time. For the good of the country.

Oh, it’s funny, ‘cuz it’s true.

In silico screening for potential COVID-19 beta-coronavirus non-nucleoside RdRp inhibitors []
Martin Shkreli is trying to use the coronavirus pandemic to get out of prison [STATNews]

Elizabeth Dye lives in Baltimore where she writes about law and politics.

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